Here at S.I.B.S., we support you in your role as a brother or sister, but moreover, we support you as an individual.
We recognize that siblings have different needs at different times in their lives, and that no two sibling experiences will be the same. In fact, our diverse experiences have helped us learn, grow, and work effectively. Our members say it best:
The best part about S.I.B.S. is that it is about us as siblings …. It is easy to make generalizations; for example, people assume that we are always worrying about our siblings, or that we’re solely focused on them. But for me, S.I.B.S. is about finding people who have common ground and a shared experience. It’s about supporting each other through whatever our lives happen to look like right now.
Our group has allowed me to see ‘disability’ in a different way. It’s not something to try and overcome; it is something to accept and embrace. S.I.B.S. has helped me to take pride in my family.
What We Do
S.I.B.S. (Supporting Illinois Brothers & Sisters) is the official Illinois chapter of the Sibling Leadership Network (SLN), supporting siblings across the lifespan. Locally, our mission is to provide support to siblings of people with disabilities in Illinois by connecting them with information, networking opportunities, and resources in order to enhance the quality of life for their entire family.
How does S.I.B.S. live out its mission?
We contribute to the sibling community through:
Providing Vital Information and Practical Education
We are proud to provide siblings with the resources they need to thrive across the lifespan. We offer workshops and helpful information on topics such as future planning, navigating the service system in Illinois, and understanding our own needs as siblings. We also educate agencies, parents, and the public on the unique needs of siblings and the importance of sibling support. Our vision is one of partnership; we work together with self-advocates, family members, and service providers to better serve the community.
For example, we are grateful to work in close partnership with The Sibling Support Project in connecting young siblings with Sibshops, which are peer gatherings that give kids a chance to meet other siblings like them in a recreational, nonjudgmental setting. We are happy to provide a list of Illinois Sibshops and other support programs as well as help others link up to the Sibling Support Project in order to receive training in the Sibshop model. Each time we are able to sponsor a Sibshop workshop training, it allows more individuals to become facilitators, taking the Sibshop model into their local communities. And as a result, more families receive much-needed support.
Bringing Local Siblings Together
We are committed to letting siblings know that they are not alone in their struggles and joys. As such, we facilitate local gatherings throughout the year, offering opportunities for siblings of all ages to connect.
We also connect Illinois siblings through in-person social networking opportunities and educational events, as well as virtually via our S.I.B.S. Network Facebook group and Illinois Adult Sibling Network. S.I.B.S. is all about relationships. The difference between feeling like no one else understands what you are going through, versus knowing that yes, it can be hard, but you are not alone, is life-changing. When siblings meet one another, supportive friendships and powerful partnerships often result. And when siblings receive the help and support they need, it has the potential to transform entire families.
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Supporting Advocacy and Leadership
Brothers and sisters of individuals with disabilities share their family’s concerns. Often brothers and sisters are not only their siblings’ friends, but also their staunchest advocates. The sibling relationship is usually the longest-lasting one in a family, and many individuals are involved throughout the adult life of their sibling with disabilities.
As such, we partner with national sibling organizations to co-create educational materials, share our stories through media, host webinars and trainings, and participate in advocacy efforts. We welcome opportunities to present on sibling issues at conferences.
In all we do, we work toward a better world for siblings and their families, partnering with parents and self-advocates to effect change. Siblings care deeply about whether or not their brothers and sisters are included within their schools, workplaces, and communities. They long for a world that welcomes and recognizes their siblings’ incredible gifts.
Moreover, they are committed to making that vision a reality.